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UTHSC Advisory Board votes to hold line on tuition  



No tuition increases are expected for the coming year at any of the six colleges at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, including for non-residents. 


The UTHSC Advisory Board voted unanimously in favor of the recommendation from Chancellor Steve Schwab, MD, in a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, January 12.


“This is all assuming what we anticipate the governor will do as far as funding under THEC (Tennessee Higher Education Commission),” said Advisory Board Chairman Philip Wenk, DDS, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee.


Gov. Bill Lee’s proposed budget, which includes funding for education, is expected to be released in early February.


“From everything I understand, the State of Tennessee is in excellent financial condition,” Dr. Wenk said. 


“This could be a good year for everybody,” Dr. Wenk said.


The motion to approve was made by the board’s student member, fourth-year Doctor of Pharmacy student Leah Burns.


“I think I speak on behalf of all students when I say, absolutely, I would like to make a motion to pass the zero-percent tuition increase,” she said.


To members of the board and UTHSC executive leadership, she said, “Thank you all for your thoughtful stewardship of the finances.”


The meeting began with brief remarks from UTHSC’s incoming chancellor, Peter F. Buckley, MD, who will begin his tenure at UTHSC in February, replacing retiring Chancellor Schwab.


“It is a great pleasure and a real privilege to follow on Steve’s legacy as chancellor and I am really excited about what lays ahead,” said Dr. Buckley, who is wrapping up his responsibilities at Virginia Commonwealth University and will be moving shortly to Memphis. 


“I think nothing more than the pandemic has proven how incredibly important and noble our mission is, and yet how much more work we need to do,” Dr. Buckley said, noting it includes expanding the diversity of representation in the state’s health care system and doubling down on clinical training.


He specifically mentioned work he will press to increase scholarships, raise endowed chairs, “and really find that transformative power of philanthropy for the health sciences all across Tennessee.”


He pointed to the opportunity for more collaboration with each UT campus and with other institutions in the state, including the University of Memphis. Dr. Buckley noted he had already reached out to incoming University of Memphis President Bill Hardgrave in the spirit of building on synergies.


“Clearly, there are also tremendous health care facilities of exemplary quality that we have clinical partnerships within Memphis and across Tennessee,” he said, noting the ability to train Tennessee’s future health care workforce and to compete in cutting-edge research is also related to the “robustness of those vital and highly valued relationships.”


Wednesday’s advisory board meeting will be available to view on the UTHSC Advisory Board webpage.